For those of you who read Stephen King you probably recognize this title, “The Long Road Home”. Although this has nothing to do with Roland and his Ka-tet, it is a fitting title for this episode, so my apologies to Stephen King for this blatant plagiarism.
It began in the spring of 1996, when my wife applied to Phoenix College in hopes of becoming a dental hygienist. We both agreed that it would be to our benefit if she’d become a dental assistant first. This way she would be able to work part time and obtain some of the credits needed for the hygienist courses that would come later.
Within two years she achieved the level of dental assistant but she only worked as an assistant for 2 months. She decided that working and going to school was too hard and quit her job to concentrate on school only.
I’m not going to pass judgment on whether her decision was based on truth of what she said or if she just didn’t want to work that hard. Everyone has their level to where things become to much to handle. When I was in college I went to school full time and I had two jobs, one full time one part time. I didn’t get much sleep in those years but I did what I had to in order to get by. Also, I didn’t have anyone to fall back on at the time, I was alone.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it seems like she was leaning on me quite heavily in order to get by which is okay, I knew this would benefit us both in the end which is why I didn’t question her decision.
So for 4 long, grueling years I worked extra hard at my job in order to pay all of the bills then I’d come home and do homework for 5 or 6 hours each night and all day on Saturday and Sunday. I would proofread all of her assignments, edit them, and type them up for her. By the time she graduated, I knew just as much about being a dental hygienist as she did.
I couldn’t quite swing the payments on our house and bills and pay for her school so we had to take out a student loan… not much, just $7000. We went though hell together during those four years and 3 weeks from graduation she came to me and asked me if she could quit. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You what?! You want to quit?! HELL NO!! You’re not going to get this close to graduation and drop out now. Are you nuts?!” This was the first time I really put my foot down, there was no way I was going to let her quit at this point, I wouldn’t be a very good husband if I did.
She said she couldn’t take the pressure any more and she wanted it to go away. I told her it would go away… in three weeks but until then, we are in the home stretch. She stuck with it and three weeks later she passed her exam and was near the top of her class. I knew she had it in her.
The entire family wanted to come to the graduation ceremony but she kept telling everyone, “No, don’t come. It’s going to be long and boring, besides we’re having a party at our house afterwards.” She told everyone we knew this very same thing. So I said, “I guess I’m not going either?” “Oh no, you’re going to the ceremony.” I was confused. She wants to spare everyone the pain of boredom for several hours on hard concrete seats but she want’s to put me through it… alone.
When I asked later why she would do that and then have me come and sit in the stands with no one to talk to her answer was, “Oh, I didn’t think about that.” Well, that’s par for the course now isn’t it? She never thinks about anyone but herself. (Sorry, I’m getting a bit bitter here, I’ll get back on course.)
To add insult to injury, at the party we had for her at our house. Her father, the one she doesn’t get alone with, put his arm around her and said, “I’m very proud of you.” Then yelled for her to make a speech. She tearfully acknowledged the fact that… “This was a hard road for me. There were time’s I didn’t think I’d make it but I did. I managed to achieve one of my life long dreams and thank you for supporting me through it.”
Not one word about the help I gave her through those four years. Not one word about how I worked to keep this household afloat. Not one word about how she wanted to give up but I pushed her through. It was full of I’s and ME’s.
I never said anything, what’s the point? If she want’s to completely ignore the fact that she’s a hygienist due in great part to my efforts, then so be it. But what really made me angry years later was the fact that my business was in dire straights and still is. I was unable to bring home any money for many months because after I paid the bills, there was nothing left. It was my turn to receive some help from my spouse, instead she said, (and this is a direct quote and I’ll never forget it) “You’re a tick and you’re sucking the life out of me.”
I made hard sacrifices for her for 4 years so she could realize her dream and now, almost 10 years later when I was the one who needed help, she insulted me. A few months later she filed for divorce.
During those 10 years however, we’d go through some major life changes. I’d see our standard of living increase 10 fold and I’d see our intimate relationship decrease to virtually nothing. Soon, I began to feel more like a room mate than a husband, then “she” came into our lives… and nothing would ever be the same again.